Any pick-up with two rows of seats emitting more than 225g/km of CO2 — which is virtually all of them at the moment — will be hit by a £25/day tax for entering central London's congestion zone.

The consultation period opened earlier this month and runs until 19 October. The proposal has pick-ups registered before 4 February 2008 included in the new scheme from July 2009 to give a period of adjustment, although vehicles registered after next February will be paying the higher charge from 6 October 2008.

The only double cab pick-up on sale that drops below 225g/km is Toyota's 2.5-litre Hilux at 219g/km. The Ford Ranger, its Mazda BT50 sibling and the Mitsubishi L200 are close, but will still be hit by an extra £25 per day, instead of the current £8.

“I don't understand why they'd want to specifically target the business community,” Mitsubishi's sales and marketing boss Lance Bradley commented. “95 per cent of our pick-ups were bought because there is a specific business need. There seems to be a misplaced thought that people are deciding between pick-ups and SUVs. They're not.”

Bradley said he expects to find an engineering solution that would see the L200 drop below 225g/km before the charge kicks in, though that won't help existing vehicles.

“To retrospectively apply a tax on a business tool isn't congestion charging, it's money making,” he said.

Ford is equally concerned. “The question is, are double cab pick-ups viewed as cars or commercial vehicles?” Ford CV boss Steve Kimber said. “It would be unfair to penalise commercial vehicles.”

There's no word from Ford about whether it will be able to tweak the engine to drop the vehicle just below the 225g/km tax break point.